Republican leaders have postponed a vote planned for this week on a bill to block President Obama’s proposed across-the-board pay increase for federal workers in 2013.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., would prevent a 0.5 percent pay raise set in April for federal employees, which is estimated to cost about $11 million a year. No new date for floor action on the vote has been set – but it would not occur until next month at the earliest. House members are likely to adjourn on Wednesday until Feb. 4.
Federal salaries have not been adjusted since January 2010. House Republicans have described their bill as part of their efforts to rein in federal spending.
But the American Federation of Government Employees and others are mobilizing members against the bill. The nation’s largest government employees’ union, which boasts 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, argues federal workers have already sacrificed enough toward deficit reduction.
“Enough is enough,” the union’s leaders said in a message urging the group's members to urge their lawmakers to vote against the measure.
But a senior House Republican said the bill is being postponed only because “there’s only so much time” left in this week. He said the focus of the GOP majority now is to bring to the floor on Wednesday a measure to raise the debt ceiling temporarily, attached to a requirement that the Senate and House both pass a budget or see their members' pay withheld. That bill, known as the “No Budget No Pay” measure would authorize a three-month debt limit increase, until May 19. House Republicans have been critical of the Senate not passing a budget blueprint for nearly four years.
Lawmakers already have denied themselves a cost-of-living increase in 2013 to their current base salaries of $174,000 a year.
As recently as the evening of Jan. 1, the House voted to also prohibit the federal employee pay raise. But the Senate adjourned the 112th congressional session without taking up the measure.